The Community Foundation of Louisville’s annual Give for Good Louisville online donation campaign is coming up later this week, and a few organizations aimed at helping area entrepreneurs stand to benefit.
Community members across an eight-county region will come together to support more than 500 organizations by making a gift online at on Thursday, September 15. The donations are then matched dollar-for-dollar and the organization is also eligible for more prizes.
Since it began in 2014, Give for Good from CFL has raised more than $42 million for area organizations. People can give from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Sept. 15.
Among the organizations jockeying for donations in the 2022 Give for Good are several that focus on developing future business leaders and entrepreneurs. Louisville Business First is highlighting three of them — Project G.E.L., Wild Accelerator Inc. and the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE).
This is the first year Wild Accelerator and Project G.E.L. have participated in the Give for Good Campaign, but GSE has participated in the campaign for several years.
Erica Rust Pennington, GSE program director, said in addition to fundraising, Give for Good is opportunity for organizations to raise their profile in the community.
“We definitely approach it as an opportunity for us to kind of get our voice out there and our story out there,” Pennington said. “We don’t have any exact goal that we’ve set, but last year we raised about $20,000.”
Established in 2013, the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs is a three-week residential summer program the prepares Kentucky high school students to become entrepreneurs. Working in teams, they take an idea and utilize STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and math) and enterprise skills to create a service or product.
In addition, as a direct result of their participation in GSE, participants qualify for a part of $5 million in scholarships from Kentucky’s universities and colleges.
GSE had 144 students from all over the state in two summer sessions this past summer. Pennington and the program’s executive director are based in Louisville, and the residency program takes place at Northern Kentucky University. The number of employees increases to 25 during the summer when the program is in session.
Pennington said GSE emulates the startup experience and culminates in the students making pitches.
“So, the students get up on stage and present their business ideas in front of a panel of judges,” Pennington said. “Our event normally has around 300 people there — family, friends, community members and other folks interested in seeing what the students have created in the three weeks. So, it’s very exciting.”
GSE alumni have gone on to found more than 70 business. Among the most recent success stories is Abigail Cheeks, co-founder and CEO of DoseDEFENSE, which produces an insert to limit the number of pills that come out of medicine bottles, and Cameron Lasley, founder of the Eastern Kentucky internet provider Telecast Communications.
Pennington said GSE’s goal for the 2022 Give for Good campaign is to “get people excited about the entrepreneurial mindset that’s being instilled in these in Kentucky’s high school students.”
Wild Accelerator launched in 2018 in an effort to support female founders. It was sold by Louisville design company Kale & Flax to Story, a co-working community at 900 E. Main St., in the summer of 2019.
Natalia Bishop, Wild’s chairperson, is a native of Colombia who founded of Level Up, ChocolateBox, and Story.
Bishop said Wild Accelerator is a nonprofit with a mission to help female founders, especially women of color, navigate the startup process. Bishop knows from experience how hard it can be for a female founder with limited resources and connections to take a business from an idea to a reality.
“Every time I went through it, I realized that I was what (television producer) Shonda Rhimes likes to call the F.O.D., the ‘First Only Different,’ in the room,” Bishop explained. “I was either the only woman or the only Brown person, certainly the only Latina most of the time. I didn’t really know anything about scaling, and how you went from building something that made a million dollars a year to something that billed $100 million a year.”
Bishop said Wild Accelerator took a break during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it gave her a chance to retool the program. The nonprofit formed a partnership with JPMorgan Chase to create a 14-week program that will help Black and Latinx female entrepreneurs to their ideas or companies to the next level.
“Back in 2020, I became an entrepreneur in residence for Amplify,” Bishop remembered. “And out of that work I got to sit down with something like 48 different female founder, that were all building incredible companies. I was helping them sort of think through what did it look like to not just do it in your neighborhood but do it where it’s a global effort.”
Chase invested about $270,000 for the beta program.
Lauren VanCleave, Story chief executive officer, said her organization is hoping to raise an additional $100,000 to provide more resources for the accelerator’s participants.
VanCleave said their goal for Give for Good is to raise $50,000.
“So, we want to make sure that when our founders go through this program, that they don’t just get a pat on the back,” VanCleave said. “What they need at the end of it is a network and they need capital.”
Project G.E.L. (Growing Entrepreneurial Leaders) was launched in 2020 by Malcolm Muhammad and Jerron Jones, both Ph.D. students at the University of Louisville.
Muhammad said the nonprofit was their attempt to help heal the community after the social unrest following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
“We were kind of behind the scenes for a long time just doing research,” Muhammad said. “That summer put a lot of urgency into me to figure out what will be the best way to give back to my community and help future generations have better experiences that we were having at the time. Project G.E.L. has always been inspired by my belief that entrepreneurship is a powerful tool to empower communities.” 
Project G.E.L. has a curriculum on entrepreneurship for all ages and all skill levels that it offers for free to other nonprofits or schools. The organization also will develop custom curriculum centered around entrepreneurship education or do project management for other groups.
Muhammad said Project G.E.L. does not have a set budget because they tend to collaborate with other organizations. At the moment, Project G.E.L. is partnering with Bridge Kids International, a nonprofit that uses the power of African heritage culture to create communities that support the well-being of young people, on its Kizazi Fund project.
“We’re going to have an entrepreneurship dinner event for the entire family,” Muhammad said. “Because one of the things that we found is that a lot of times adults might be interested in entrepreneurship or just learning about it. When they get off work, they want to go to an event but they can’t because they don’t know where to take their children.”
Muhammad and Jones will be graduating this year and they hope to grow their organization. Muhammad said they have brought on Quainisha Shawanabin, a third-grade teacher, to help them design curriculums. Naiyana Williams, a marketing specialist, also has joined the team.
Muhammad said Williams will focus on Project G.E.L.’s first Give for Good campaign. It hopes to bring in $10,000.
“So far, we’ve been able to do a lot of our programs on kind of no budget,” he explained. “We’ve been able to collaborate with different groups or get sponsors for food. Just very recently, we started to actually raise funds.”
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